Once we arrived at the Elephant Nature Park, we settled down at a table and were briefed on how the day would go forward. We had a few different activities that we would be doing with the elephants and in order to start off our day of fun, we had to do some work first. This meant that we had to wash watermelons and then proceed to cut them into 1/4ths so that the elephants could eat them. We got up, wandered to the mass amounts of tubs filled to the brim with watermelons and started washing them. We had giant tubs of water that we had to thrown them into and then put them back into the baskets so that we could move them closer to the table so we could cut them. We quickly formed two assembly lines to get this going and sped through the washing relatively quickly. The chopping took a bit longer and it’s always a bit of a terrifying experience to be reaching onto a table for watermelons while people are cutting them on all sides of you. But thankfully, nothing bad happened and we all managed to keep our fingers and stay fully intact. After reloading the cut watermelon into the baskets, we dragged them over to four specific locations and waited. As soon as the baskets began dragging, the four elephants that were basking in the sun stopped what they were doing and started walking in our direction.
We were set up in an L shape in which three elephants were positioned along the same fence and a fourth was to the right of the group. We later found out that the sweet girl who was standing alone actually prefers to be alone rather than hanging out with the rest of the elephants so they keep her relatively separated. All of the elephants that we got to spend the day with were well into their 60s and incredibly sweet. The way that we were set up, we were broken up into smaller groups and basically allocated ourselves to a different elephant. My friends and I ended up getting to split two elephants between the four of us and it was great to have so much one on one time with them. One of the elephants was completely blind and the other was going partially blind. I ended up spending almost all of my time with the elephant that was completely blind and I couldn’t have been happier with the sweet girl that I spent all my time with.
We placed our baskets on one side of the little fence post and immediately, the elephant trunks reached out and started going for the watermelons so we had to pull the baskets back so that they wouldn’t eat all of them at once. With my elephant, we had to guide her trunk to find the food because her sense of smell was a little off and she would just wave her trunk around until she hit something and found food. As I stood there trying to catch her attention and having her trunk slam up against me a couple of times when she realized I had food, I ended up getting covered in elephant drool and mud very quickly. The elephants each have their own funny personalities. With mine, every time she’d wrap the tip of her trunk around a piece of watermelon, she would immediately start looking for a second piece to add to her new found treasure. We kept having to push her trunk away to signify that she wouldn’t get anymore until she finished what she had already been given. So after a few times, she learned and changed her tactic. As soon as she would move the watermelon from her trunk to her mouth, her trunk would dart right back out and reach for the second piece of watermelon even as she was chewing the original. It was by far one of the most adorable things I have ever seen and experienced.
When we finally finished off the watermelon, it was to move onto the few squash that had been added to the baskets. The elephants can smell how sweet the watermelon is compared to the squash and so if we were able to trick the elephants into taking the squash, they would immediately spit it out when they realized what it was. So when it came time to get them to finish that snack, we had to let them feel around the basket and realize that the watermelon was all gone and then they would start to eat the squash.
After we had finally finished all the food that had been prepared for the elephants it was time to take them for a walk.